Could Will Benson be the Cleveland Guardians version of Joey Gallo?
In the new era of Major League Baseball, the emphasis has turned to the supposed “3 True Outcomes,” a walk, a home run, or a strikeout. You see perfect examples of these true outcomes among players such as Joey Gallo, Max Muncy, Shohei Ohtani and even certain teams, like the New York Yankees have been built around this principle.
Many of the Cleveland faithful have been intently watching an extremely talented group of prospects over the last few years and, for me in particular, I have kept a watchful eye on Will Benson.
This season, if you take his stats at face value you may feel as though he has been slightly disappointing. But when you take into consideration his skillset alongside the current big league roster there are some very exciting comparisons that can be made.
I know what you’re thinking. “But Joey Gallo is a terrible hitter.” “Joey Gallo strikes out too much.” “Joey Gallo can’t beat the shift.” And to that I say, by the time you’re done reading, I will change your mind about both Joey Gallo of the New York Yankees and Will Benson of the Cleveland Guardians.
Let’s check out the numbers. According to baseball-reference.com, Benson’s slash line seems a bit conflicting. On the season, between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus he has combined to hit .211 which at first glance can be disheartening. Now do me a favor, completely throw batting average out the window from this point until the end of time.
The reason I say this is because production, in regards to helping your team win, more often than not has nothing to do with a player’s batting average. Looking deeper into the stats, at things like OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging), and even deeper at stats pertaining to production with RISP (Runners In Scoring Position) are the only true ways to find good value.
In the case of Benson, when you look into the more advanced stats, you find that even though he isn’t a great pure hitter, this man flat out gets on base no matter what. Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Benson has put up an impressive .362 OBP and an even more impressive .452 OBP with two outs and RISP.
His ability to extend an inning shows value so far beyond just hitting the baseball. Funny enough, this pales in comparison to his general numbers with RISP, a .304 clip paired with a .528 OBP really begins to put his value into perspective.
But wait, there’s more! The cherry on top here is that 37 of Benson’s 67 hits on the season are extra bases hits. More than half of his hits on the year have gone for a double, triple or home run. Let that sink in for a moment. Oh, and not to mention this kid has stolen 14 bags on 19 attempts.
For comparison sake, to tie this up in a neat little bow, in 2015 before Joey Gallo was called up to the big leagues this was his slash line and a few major statistics; (321 At-Bats)
He slashed .240/.342/.862 with 23 home runs and 63 RBI while drawing 51 walks, scoring 41 times and snagging two bases.
And here you see how Will Benson compares so far this season as member of the Cleveland Guardians organization; (through 320 At-Bats)
Benson was able to slash .209/.359/.803 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI while drawing 71 walks, scoring 68 times and stealing 14 bases.
When it comes down to value, we have a hidden gem just waiting to be mined. Benson has the potential to put up comparable numbers to some of the big boppers in the league while hitting at the top of our lineup and playing stellar defense (6’5 230lbs and could be an everyday centerfielder).
If you’re still skeptical of this comparison, allow me to offer another. Look no further than a guy who helped guide us to a World Series.
Carlos Santana was an enormous part of this team’s success whether people want to admit it or not. In 2016 Santana hit .259 with a .366 OBP and a .865 OPS. A man who virtually leads the free world in walks every year and finds his power at just the right moments, who also proved to be a tremendous asset defensively.
Though Benson doesn’t seem to be a pure hitter, what he lacks in that area he more than makes up for with his ability to get on base and utilize his speed once he gets there. Combine that with his power potential and defensive ability and you have a homegrown superstar, made in the image of Joey Gallo.
Obviously, a lot of this article is based on what Benson could be for the Cleveland Guardians but the numbers are there if you just take a look at his body of work. What seems to be a struggle, on the surface, is truly just Benson playing to his own abilities in order to better himself and the team around him. It looks as though he has really begun to settle into who he is as a ballplayer and I advise that we all remember the name.
Be on the lookout for this young man as Spring Training rolls around for the 2022 season, he could be an integral piece in building the next winner. Let’s get excited, Cleveland!